Monday, July 02, 2007

Power tools, politics and pumpkins

The plaster walls in most of the brick homes in Merry Oaks present challenges for those doing home improvement projects. Some of the homes in other center-city neighborhoods have the same walls.
Carpenters familiar with the construction techniques explain: The builders put up two by fours, then put in thin horizontal wood strips on top of those. Then they slathered cement -- yes, cement -- on to the thin wood strips. The cement oozed into the small cracks between the wood strips, forming an incredibly tight, strong bond. On top of the rough cement went plaster.
Seems those returning World War II vets wanted bunkers.
So if you plan to put holes in the walls for shelves, art, curtains or crown molding, prepare to use force. The small nail guns with air cartridges and batteries won't necessarily cut it -- but nail guns powered by heavy compressors seem to work well. You can rent the tools at Home Depot, and choose your nails carefully. Steel nails will work, experts say.
Of politics: Merry Oaks is in a small corner of the 8th Congressional District, a seat held by U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes of Cabarrus County. The district lines are oddly drawn, with our corner of East Charlotte and points east lumped in with rural areas in Cabarrus. Mel Watt's 12th District is often less than a mile away for many residents.
Democrats are targeting Hayes in the 2008 race, because he won by only 328 votes over teacher Larry Kissell in the last election. Read Lisa Zagaroli in The Charlotte Observer (link might expire in two weeks) for updates as 2008 nears, and check out new political links here. For official government websites that affect the neighborhood, the Merry Oaks Neighborhood Link website is a great place to start.
Of pumpkins: In a small sunny clearing, surrounded by woods, pumpkins are blooming and growing. It's unclear who planted: I like to think a student at Merry Oaks Elementary stuck the seeds in behind the school. Here's hoping that same student gets to return in the fall to see what summer sun and rain produce. See if you can find the pumpkins on a walk through the new well-used, paved trails near Merry Oaks Elementary. Caveat: it could be squash or zucchini, I'm not completely sure.
Time will tell.

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